marriage proposal

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There are two things you’re supposed to do during the holidays: buy a Lexus and propose to your girl. That’s what mass media tells us, right?

While purchasing a car is a choice that only impacts your pockets, that whole ring thing has major implications. There’s a lot of pressure on guys to “get it right.” If you research “how much to spend on a ring” you’ll see experts saying anywhere from 2-3 months of your salary—really? If you’re earning $2000-$5000 a month, hustling to pay off student loans and barely getting by, spending $6k or more on a ring is stupid AF. More importantly, the pressure—or desire—to floss with a big ole rock should have absolutely no bearing on a proposal. A mature woman who truly loves you doesn’t care about the size of the ring, only that it is a selfless reflection of your love for her.

So what does that flowery language mean in terms of dollars and common sense? If you’re ready to buy a ring, it’s time to decide how much you can really afford (ego aside). Here are some things to consider.

How much do you have saved?

When a man takes a wife he’s creating a partnership. It’s up to each couple to determine what their union looks like, but finances will definitely play a role. Whether you plan to go old school and shoulder the financial responsibilities or share the finances based on income, you need a stash for emergencies because it will now cover two people. From a purely practical perspective, you should not spend more on the ring than you have in savings. A fancy ring doesn’t matter if you’re on the verge of eviction or can’t get financing for a new house or apartment because an emergency trashed you credit. Getting your finances in order pre-ring purchase is a great way to show you’re truly a savvy partner.

Do have any assets?

Some folks want to rent forever and that’s cool. But in terms of financial hierarchy, you shouldn’t ball out on a ring without having some assets (home, art, etc…). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy a ring. Instead, it means you should consider your net worth (all assets minus debts) vs. salary when determining how much to invest in jewelry.

Do you have access to a quality jeweler you can trust?

One of the most memorable moments on Bravo’s short-lived series, Untying the Knot was when producer Memphitz learned that the jewelry he purchased was appraised for significantly less than what he paid for it. The music executive was taken advantage of by sheisty jewelers. Before you invest in a gem, research the store and gemologist. Make sure they give you a certified statement of the quality and carat of the piece. Lastly, ask about the store’s return policy—you should take it to another jeweler ASAP for a second appraisal.

What would she like?

After you finalize how much you want to spend and where to buy it, you have to consider what you know your lady will love. The ring shouldn’t be a reflection of your taste— it should be something she’ll enjoy wearing daily. It should fit her personal style and complement her day-to-day life (for example, will she be cool traveling while wearing it, etc..). Focus on the cut she’ll love—you can always upgrade the stone.